Stolen bottles of extremely rare bourbon recovered

Pappy Van Winkle bourbon.
Source: Pappy Van Winkle

A treasure trove of rare bourbon has been recovered after being previously stolen from distillery sites by a criminal syndicate, said officials in Kentucky. Nine people have been indicted in the theft, said Franklin County, Kentucky, Sheriff Pat Melton.

The hooch, which Melton estimated to be worth at least $100,000, included the extremely rare and sought-after Pappy Van Winkle brand. Recovered were 18 barrels, including one barrel of Eagle Rare 17-year-old worth about $11,000 as well as 25 bottles of Van Winkle. Thirteen cases are still unaccounted for, said the sheriff.

The nine arrested were charged with engaging in organized crime as members of a criminal syndicate, theft and receipt of bourbon, and illegal trafficking of bourbon.

The multiple bourbon heists the group is allegedly responsible for started in January 2008. In 2013, 35 cases of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle worth about $25,000 were stolen, some of which was previously recovered.

Bourbon is a big deal in Kentucky. Melton got emotional as he thanked his teams, the public and the media for their help in the case.

Filled bourbon barrels weigh more than 500 pounds each.

The distillers from which the bourbon was taken, Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey, said they are working with officials and would not comment further as it is an ongoing investigation.

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